Manhunter ★★★★

Well, I can certainly confirm my theory from my Anomalisa review. Tom Noonan really is among the scariest people in the world. With that said, I am glad that I finally got to watch another Michael Mann film, since I had only watched Heat (which I absolutely loved) before Manhunter among the films in Mann's filmography. After watching this one, I definitely want to delve into his other films, but I also want to see Red Dragon now, so I can compare the older and newer films with each other. To think that I would look forward to a Brett Ratner (!!!) film.

The reasons for liking this film are many. First of all, the amazing soundtrack that is omnipresent throughout this film creates a great atmosphere, even when it at times can get cheesy. Especially the use of Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-da-Vida" during the climax was effective, and almost all of the instrumental tracks worked brilliantly in the first half of the film (you can see where Nicholas Winding Refn might have been inspired for Drive). The cinematography by Dante Spinotti, who also worked on Heat was excellent, with the use of tinted colors being great examples of visual characterization, as it was used to highlight the effect that Will Graham's wife (Kim Greist) and son (David Seaman) had on him, as well as establishing the unsettling nature of Francis Dollarhyde's character. The mise-en-scènes should also be highlighted here, as the wide shot of Will Graham after his conversation with Lecktor shows us how alone he is in this case, and also works as good foreshadowing of the larger psychological issues he will face.

Michael Mann's direction and screenplay should also be praised, as it went down a clever route of having Will Graham's mental deterioration as its emphasis and the similarities he seems to share with the psychopaths he encounters in Dollarhyde as well as Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (I really don't know why his name was changed here). William Petersen delivers an excellent performance as Will Graham and gives him a lot of complex layers and nuances that makes him that more compelling, as he is capturing the people he himself is almost becoming. We are told by Lecktor, played with subtle brilliance by Brian Cox, that he and Graham are very much alike, and the film does the right thing by showing us how understanding the criminal mind can hurt your mental stability. Added to that, Tom Noonan's performance as Francis Dollarhyde becomes that more terrifying when we are shown that he wants a life similar to what Graham has with his family. I also liked that it was kept vague as to what Dollarhyde's motivations were, so that we could guess what it was that drove him, which kind of made him a truly tragic and horrifying character if you ask me. Especially when it leads to him setting Stephen Lang's Freddy Lounds on fire in a wheelchair.

My gripes with the film aren't many, but they do drag the film down from being a 4½ stars. While I liked Joan Allen's performance as Reba McClane, the blind woman who falls in love with Dollarhyde, I couldn't help but feel that her character arc was introduced a bit too late into the film, and it felt more like a routine murder for Dollarhyde when he confronted her rather than a excruciatingly tragic scene for him that it could have been. Also, the soundtrack could, as aforementioned, get a bit too cheesy at times, which did break my immersion during certain parts of the film's second half. Furthermore, while I enjoyed the cinematography, I did find some of the locations a bit sterile, which could make the film feel a bit lifeless at times.

In conclusion, Manhunter is a great film that should not be overlooked when the talk falls on the adaptations of Thomas Harris' novels. The cinematography, acting, directing, writing and soundtrack makes it all worth it, despite the gripes I had with it. Since I in my previous review stated that my next film is going to be a bad one, I might as well drop a hint: it also has William Petersen in it, although not in a leading role.

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